Important: Students should not restrict their search for a supervisor to those listed below. Use other sources of information on research groups to find out about possible supervisors. Most UROP research experiences are obtained with staff who do not advertise their availability. However, please also take note of the list of non-participating staff.

UROP Opportunities in the Faculty of Natural Sciences
UROP Opportunities in the Faculty of Natural Sciences
Title of UROP Opportunity (Research Experience) & DetailsExperience required (if any)Contact Details and any further Information
Gene Regulation: Study the molecular biology of gene regulation at the level of RNA polymorase activity, in particular protein-protein interactions that control transcription initiation.  Molecular biology and biochemistry background

Professor Martin Buck, Integrative Cell Biology, Dept of Life Sciences, Room 448, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, South Kensington Campus. Tel: 020 7594 5442 Email: 

Forest mycorrhizal ecology: This project aims to assess mycorrhizas and their environmental drivers in forest biomonitoring stands across Europe. Other projects on the ecology and/or evolution of plant-fungal interactions may be available.  

Dr Martin Bidartondo, Project will be based externally at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The Dept of Life Sciences has academic staff permanently based at Kew.


Magnetism: We offer a variety of projects which vary from year to year based in the area of magnetism. The work usually involves using cryogenics and training on large commercial pieces of apparatus such as magnetometers or electrical transport rigs.

Preferably good experimental skills which means competence with software programs and confidence with handling experimental apparatus. Some of the experimental work is quite detailed. The work may also involve processing and analysis of data.

Professor Lesley Cohen, Experimental & Solid State Physics, Department of Physics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, 912 Blackett Laboratory, South Kensington Campus. Tel: 020 7594 7598 Email:

Second and third year students only.

Summer vacation only


Design of a Novel Neutrino Detector: Neutrino physicists are already measuring physics beyond the Standard Model, whilst the LHC searches for supersymmetry and extra dimensions.

The discovery of neutrino mass and flavour oscillation is the first confirmed observation of physics beyond the Standard Model [1,2]. The next generation of experiments will perform highly sensitive searches for violation of charge-parity (CP) symmetry with neutrinos [3,4]. CP symmetry means that the laws of nature s hould be the same for antimatter seen through a mirror as they are for normal matter. This symmetry is known to be violated by quarks, but at a very small level. If neutrinos violate CP symmetry at a large level, this could explain why the universe is made of matter and not antimatter!

One of the requirements for the success of future experiments is improved understanding of the interactions of neutrinos and antineutrinos with nuclei [5]. This project is to design a new type of detector, comprising a high-pressure gas time-projection-chamber (HPTPC) [6], to make the necessary measurements.

Imperial College is involved in the proposed Hyper-Kamiokande neutrino experiment in Japan [4], which will be the most precise accelerator neutrino oscillation experiment with world-leading sensitivity to νe appearance and νμ disappearance. We are specifically involved in the efforts to design a new near detector capable of measuring neutrino-nucleus interactions with 1% systematic uncertainty.

This project will involve computational work to develop a Monte Carlo simulation of an HPTPC detector, with the goal of optimising the design for neutrino oscillation measurements. The student will learn to use the ROOT and GEANT4 software packages (both use C++) which are standard tools for high energy physics. The end goal of the project is a conceptual detector design suitable for submission to a national lab or funding body.

An open mind and willingness to tackle difficult problems is required. Experience with C++ coding is useful

Dr Morgan Wascko, Dept of Physics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Blackett Laboratory, Room 525, South Kensington Campus. Tel: 0207 594 1607. Email:

Theory and Simulation of Materials

The Theory and Simulation of Materials Centre for Doctoral Training is offering a number of UROP projects this summer in areas across Physics, Materials and Engineering.


For more information on the projects and details of how to apply please visit our website:

Numerical packing of cubes with application to breakwaters with concrete cube units: AMCG has a powerful FEMDEM code, see that has been used now in 3D and in published research on (i) coastal defence structures where concrete units are packed into layers and (ii) industrial catalyst pellets. In (ii) we have achieved packing density results that compare closely with experimental packs that have been analysed with X-ray micro-computer tomography. Cubes are unusual in that they have the potential to pack with zero porosity if there is zero friction i.e. brick-like filling. We wish to explore the effect of friction coefficient on the packing density of cubes, the randomness of pack orientation and investigate the influence of rectilinear container boundaries. Cubes seem ideal also because we can use experimental and photographic data of carefully performed wooden cube packing experiments (Latham and Munjiza, 2004) Moving on to an important application, cubes are the most popular breakwater unit in Northern Spain and many places in the world. It would be very interesting to simulate packing of a randomly oriented double layer of 100 tonne cubes at full scale, placed on a sloping underlayer of rocks using regular grid spacing as used by crane operators.

Skills and experience required: Willingness to learn numerical simulation such as shown on and a grounding and curiosity regarding mechanics and granular interactions.

Contact: Dr John-Paul Latham, Room 4.97, Dept of Earth Science and Engineering, South Kensington Campus. Tel: 0207 594 7327

Available in the Imperial College summer vacation (2017) only (July-September period). Dates are negotiable.

The student will be able to examine similar results achieved with the packing code and will be trained and then supported by a team that includes two PhD students, one devoted to our coastal structure research with rock-like and unusual concrete shapes.

We envisage an important outcome within 8 to 12 weeks culminating in a poster and some movie outputs, all leading towards a publication.

UROP Opportunities in the Faculty of Natural Sciences